Italy, November 1944. Our stay in the town of Fossombrone soon came to an end and back we went into action. I always felt that going back in our coming out of the front was equally dangerous. The Germans seemed to know when large units were coming and going and took this time to increase patrols and counterattacks, thinking they would catch our troops at a critical time of change over. I felt the roads in and out at this time were subjected to an increase of very accurate shelling.
Once in position being around the guns a routine was established. If we were fortunate enough to have a couple of casas near where we could have our command post and kitchen, the outlook was not too bleak compared to our infantry comrades. How they survived at this time when the rain had filled their slit trenches and soaked them 24 hours a day. We arrived back at the front through uneventful soft wet fields and muddy roads. This time we were in support of the 12th Infantry Brigade. I had not mentioned them before.
The 12th were made up from disbanding the 1st LAA RCA regiment and making foot soldiers out of the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards who had to get out of their armoured cars and be foot sloggers. The third battalion of the Brigade was the Westminster regiment which was a motorized battalion. Supporting this Brigade was the 11Army Field regiment RCA now no longer the 11 Army Field Regiment, but 11 Field Regiment RCA . They being army troops did not like losing the army title.
When they disbanded the 1st LAA RCA we had Lt Cam Leckie join the 60th Battery in October [Cam passed away a couple months ago. RIP old friend ].
Somewhere during this time if I remember correctly there was a German fighter pilot whom we called the mad Major that used to fly at low level along the roads shooting at everything that was moving and would get the odd truck or jeep. He flew so low that our antiaircraft guns could not depress enough because if they did their shells would be striking amongst us. I remember walking across a field with one of our fellows and saw to our rear that a medium battery was firing every few moments. We could see the gun illuminated by the muzzle flash.The next thing there was a German airplane just a few feet above our heads. When the gun fired again the airplane shifted his angle and started firing all his wing mounted cannons at this medium gun. His empty cannon cartridges rained down just in front of us and we could see them still falling as he dove on the medium gun. The gun in question was likely from the 2nd Medium Regt RCA. I do not know if he hit any one at the gun but he certainly was diving directly toward it with all cannon blazing. This pilot seemed to have a charmed life. Someone, I believe Bob Anderson, said that he met up with the Mad Major at the Legion in Courtenay many years ago. So this pilot survived and immigrated .
Another time this same pilot flew over a house we were in, attracted to a massive chimney fire. These old Italian houses never had a chimney cleaned in years so the accumulated creosote was inches thick inside the chimney, resulting in our chaps really sending up a massive smoke. I had someone try to put out the chimney flame. The result was that the steam from the water dousing the fire expanded and almost blew the chimney apart. Just as we had the smoke quelled this pilot flew over and let go a couple of bombs which whistled over the house and struck the crossroad close by. I think he set one vehicle on fire. Just as the bomb burst, or moments after, into the house came a chap by the name of Tucker. He was mud and barnyard filth from the top of his head to toes. Tucker had been sitting on the make shift toilet rail, trousers down when the plane let the bombs go just overhead. In a flash he hit the dirt and I mean dirt. All chicken dung and a layer of slimy mud. What a sight! It gave all of us a laugh but I cannot remember Tucker laughing. Our next stop a place called Godo. Here is where we were to attempt to captured a prisoner or two.